Staff Pick

Small is an anthropologist, but her revealing examination of the lives of the homeless is less an objective study of “them” than an effort to “open windows of clarity and compassion” and so enable people to work together to find solutions to a problem that affects and implicates everyone. Making the rounds of shelters, pawnshops, government services offices, and food pantries with Ross, a former homeless military vet she got to know in the eponymous dog park, Small sees first-hand the travails of “the human fallout of our economic system,” and comes to understand homelessness as not “an aberration” due to individual circumstances and decisions but the “product” of the way we—all of us—live today. 

 

The Man in the Dog Park: Coming Up Close to Homelessness Cover Image
$22.95
ISBN: 9781501748783
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Cornell University Press - April 15th, 2020

Staff Pick

A planetary scientist, Johnson is passionate about searching for life in unlikely places—whether that means an isolated Australian lake “stippled with halite, a…table salt,” above the cloud line on a Hawaiian volcano—or on Mars. Hopes for life on the red planet have always been high, with early observers mistaking Martian dust for vegetation and even elaborate civic projects. Yet as more sophisticated explorations have exposed these as fictions, actual pictures of that red dust have produced evidence that the conditions to support life really did exist there once. As she traces the challenges, findings, and failures of a string of Surveyors, Rovers, and Explorers, Johnson’s meticulous and lyrical descriptions (the sky on Mars, for instance, isn’t black or blue but butterscotch) convey not only the science but the human quest for meaning that’s driven the work—despite the fact that “half the missions to Mars have failed”; Johnson’s own engagement in this endeavor has been so deep that her first child was due on the same day the Curiosity was scheduled to land on Mars, giving added oomph to her conviction that these missions represent “an almost existential endeavor…to learn what life really is.” 

The Sirens of Mars: Searching for Life on Another World Cover Image
$28.99
ISBN: 9781101904817
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Crown - July 7th, 2020

Staff Pick

Since Lab Girl, Jahren relocated to Oslo, Norway, where, along with her award-winning work in paleobiology, she teaches a course on the origins of climate change. This is a course everyone should take. Presented here, it’s an engaging, fast-paced survey of how our relentless drive for “more” fuels increases in our population, longevity, urbanization, travel, industrial and agricultural production, with  concurrent negative impacts on the natural environment. Jahren uses a lot of statistics—leavened with plenty of engaging stories—and her book is also a mini-primer on data interpretation. Although global fossil fuel use and meat production have tripled since 1969, regional consumption rates are uneven; OECD nations waste food and struggle to declutter, but places like Bangladesh barely register on energy-usage maps, even as they suffer the brunt of the Anthropocene’s devastating storms and rising seas—not to mention supplying materials essential for the richer nations’ turbines and digital devices. Jahren’s intent isn’t to blame or frighten, however, but to inform, and her data boils down to “use less and share more.” If we do, there will be enough to go around. Recognizing that this is a tough sell—“consuming less is not…a new product that can be marketed”—Jahren urges a wholesale re-envisioning of how we use energy. That vision is still vague, but if we scale back to rates roughly equivalent of those in Switzerland in the 1960s, “humanity might survive civilization.”

 

The Story of More: How We Got to Climate Change and Where to Go from Here Cover Image
$15.00
ISBN: 9780525563389
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Vintage - March 3rd, 2020

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